Prep football preview: Lakes Valley
Projected order of finish by consensus of coaches; 2018 records in parentheses.
1. SOUTH LYON (10-1, 8-0)
Coach Jeff Henson said South Lyon's belief in the same thing led to a remarkable turnaround from 1-8 to 10-1 last fall. In his fifth season, the coach will now have a new role as team to beat. “They just truly like to be with each other, believed in each other, and I think that was the big difference,” Henson said. The program has about 100 players, and Henson said up to 10 players could be play college football next year, including OLB/TE Jesse Powell (MAC interest), QB/S Conner Fracassi and WR Brenden Lach (Michigan Tech commit).
2. WHITE LAKE LAKELAND (7-4, 6-2)
Senior FB/LB Dakota Myers, who rushed for about 1,000 yards each of the last two years, will lead what coach Joe Woodruff calls a “blue-collar program.” Junior WR/S Mike Sherrill Jr. is another standout for Woodruff, who has coached high school football for 30 years.
3. WALLED LAKE WESTERN (8-4, 6-2)
Some of the big names from the last few years are gone, likely including Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen, a Northwestern wide receiver commit who has been ruled ineligible for the season. Coach Alex Grignon still feels good about the overall group, which includes Northern Illinois commit C.J. Brown (S/RB/WR) and junior QB Zach Trainor (Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic offers). “A lot of people are talking about who we have, but I’d be more worried about the guys they don’t know we have,” Grignon said, including offensive tackles Malachi Bolden (junior transfer from Belleville) and Justin Collier, and RB/DB Justin Gabriel.
4. WALLED LAKE NORTHERN (4-5, 4-4)
Coach Joe Boulus had a three-year plan in promoting eight sophomores in 2017, a move that could pay dividends this fall. C/G Kyle Arnoldi will start for the fourth year and the Western Michigan commit is the first full scholarship Division I football player in Northern history. Interior linemen Grant Smith and Alex Hunt are three-year starters for Northern, which lost three games in the final minute last year. The entire front seven, which features nine players who rotated in, are also back for a defense that should be strong. TE Seamus Conway (6-6, 250) is also attracting college interest.
5. WATERFORD MOTT (4-5, 4-4)
Mott will be a team to watch this fall and could be a league contender next season with a strong junior class. Expect coach Chris Fahr to keep it on the ground more this year with junior running backs Keone Sanders (also a CB) and Xaiyon Styles (LB) playing behind sophomore QB Ashton Tong.
6. SOUTH LYON EAST (6-5, 5-3)
Coach Joe Pesci brings back just four offensive starters and five on defense after losing 19 seniors. Junior Ayden Oliver will be under center for a team that made the playoffs last season for the second time in the program’s 11 years. Senior RB/LB Donovan Wright, a three-year starter, has a few Division II offers and is garnering interest from larger schools.
7. WATERFORD KETTERING (1-8, 0-8)
After winning six games in 2013, the win total has slid by a game each season since, culminating in 1-8 last year. Coach Kenny Schmidt has reason for optimism as a few seniors are getting college looks, a rarity as of late at Kettering. WR/DB DJ Hamler has four GLIAC offers and one from Morgan State, while RB/LB Larry Platt and WR/CB Brendan Teal are also getting college looks.
8. WALLED LAKE CENTRAL (2-7, 2-6)
Josh Perusse, the former defensive line coach, is the only first-year head coach in the conference and has experience on both sides of the line returning with seniors Ethan Gresh (C/DL), Dragi Cickovski (C/NG) and Raffy Karoumi (LT/DT). Junior Austin Wilson (RB/LB) leads the skill position players.
9. MILFORD (1-8, 1-7)
Fourteen seniors, led by captains Camren Matthews (DL), Nick Oslin (DB), Erik Kramar (RB/DB) and Hunter Pillera (QB), will bring more leadership than last season, coach Garfrey Smith said. The defense is particularly experienced, led by junior LB Alex Hiipakka.